Is now too late to ask about “health and productivity management” and “well-being”?

The Japanese HR portal site Nihon no Jinji-bu (Japan’s Human Resources Dept.) includes a section called the Health and Productivity Management Dictionary, which explains terms related to health and productivity management. The page in the dictionary that covers well-being introduces related concepts, the factors that have led to a focus on well-being, and examples of various initiatives by Japanese companies, including those of the Rakuten Group. We’re pleased to share an excerpt from the page.

Here’s the link to the explanation of well-being (in Japanese) that appears in Nihon no Jinji-bu’s Health and Productivity Management Dictionary.

Health and productivity management and well-being

According to Nihon no Jinji-bu, health and productivity management refers to the strategic implementation of employee health from a management perspective. In Japan, health and productivity management has been garnering attention due to the need to reduce social security spending, including medical costs, and from the perspective of corporate risk management.

Well-being, on the other hand, is a keyword in the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO)’s definition of health, which is often described as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. 

According to the entry, factors behind the increase in attention on well-being include the diversification of values, the shortage and increased mobility of human resources, the promotion of work-style reforms, the spread of the coronavirus, and references to SDGs.

In addition, the promotion of well-being is beginning to be viewed as a contributing factor to improved corporate performance and investors are increasingly calling for the disclosure of such non-financial indicators as those related to human capital, which also may be driving the promotion of corporate well-being.

In addition to Rakuten, the entry introduces well-being-related initiatives by Itoki Corporation, Denso Corporation, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Lawson, Inc., and the Marui Group. It will be interesting to see how these and other related efforts will expand in the future.

Due to recent changes in social conditions and the competitive environment of the human resources market, health and productivity management in Japan has been expanding with a focus on the promotion of physical health, but now may be the time to reconsider the meaning of well-being in a broader sense that includes mental and social well-being.

Well-being within the Rakuten Group

As mentioned in the entry, Rakuten has appointed a CWO (Chief Well-being Officer), a role that is fulfilled by one of the company’s founders.

The CWO oversees a division that promotes three types of well-being with the aim of promoting a form of well-being that goes beyond the framework of physical health.

The three types are individual, organizational, and social well-being.

For individual well-being, the division organizes activities to promote employees’ physical and mental health, such as seminars to provide health-related know-how and exercise events. These activities could be viewed as similar to those associated with the conventional concept of health and productivity management.

Organizational or collective well-being, aimed at enhancing engagement between employees and Rakuten, is based on the two pillars of sharing the corporate philosophy as a centripetal force and promoting diversity, which represents one of Rakuten’s key corporate strategies.

Social well-being focuses on the goal of making Rakuten and society on a whole better and sustainable through Rakuten’s businesses and assets.

The entry on the Nihon no Jinji-bu website also highlights the Rakuten People & Culture Lab’s publication of the Collective Well-being guidelines, which focus on collective well-being in the New Normal era amid 2020’s coronavirus pandemic.

More than just physical health, collective well-being is defined as the state of a sustainable team of connected diverse individuals who have attained wellness based on a given objective and encourages the designing by individuals and teams of well-considered breathing space in terms of Team, Time, and Place.

By reaffirming definitions, origins, and actual examples, we hope that each organization will be able to promote optimal health and productivity management and well-being.